She's a character, she has opinions.

Put on a nice dress, young lady, you’re stirring up the men.

with 4 comments

The Ho’s Uniform: How Ines Sainz Proves “Victim-Blaming” Isn’t Always a Bad Thing or How The Champ at Very Smart Brothas Proves Victim Blaming is Alive and Thriving.

Here is where I point you toward the concept of victim blaming: “Victim blaming is holding the victims of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment to be entirely or partially responsible for the transgressions committed against them. It is also about holding individuals responsible for their own personal distress or difficulties instead attributing responsibility to the transgressors who caused it.” (Here is also where I tell you that I copied this paragraph word for word from something I wrote less than a month ago. Stop making me weep for humanity, people.)

Today’s victim is Ines Sainz, reporter for TV Azteca who was supposedly sexually harassed by members of the NY Jets players and staff while waiting to conduct a locker room interview with QB Mark Sanchez. The Jets and the League are looking into these allegations and the Association of Women in Sports Media (AWSM) will be holding an educational session for the Jets. Some suggest that Sainz was harassed because of her clothing, jeans, boots, and a button-down, white, short-sleeved shirt. (Photo here, courtesy of Sainz.) This is The Champ’s take on it:

But, I’m also sure she has at least a peripheral understanding of the dynamics involved with sports culture, and I’m certain she’s aware that of all the major American sports, football is widely considered the most hypermasculine. And, when you enter that culture on their territory with an outfit explicitly suggesting your tits and ass are the only parts of you meant to be taken seriously, it shouldn’t be a big surprise when your tits and ass are the only parts of you taken seriously.

What part of Sainz’ outfit suggested that only her tits and ass were meant to be taken seriously? Was it the part you (and the Jets) viewed through your male gaze? You and society may think that Sainz was dressing for your pleasure, but it’s more likely she wasn’t. (Don’t you dare “tight pants” me, young man. Tight pants are not an invitation for you to take ownership of the person wearing them.)

What really disturbs me about this post, and about attitudes that are becoming common today, is the way The Champ tries to make his victim blaming sound logical, even sympathetic toward the victim:

If I get beat up, stabbed, or shot while walking through a known Crip area at night with a Chicago Bulls jersey and two red bandannas around my neck, sure the criminals need to be caught and brought to justice, but that sh*ts on me too. Did I deserve to get assaulted? No. Was my intentionally reckless behavior a major contributor to said assault? Yes. Admitting your personal culpability doesn’t absolve the perpetrators of any blame.

First, you’re conflating gang violence with sexual harassment. Don’t. It’s misleading and it ignores the complexities of both problems. Nice straw man.

Second, putting on a pair of jeans and a shirt is not “intentionally reckless behavior.” No, not even if I plan to wear them in front of a bunch of football players. I am in no way being reckless in expecting adult human beings to behave like adult human beings. Saying I am is taking the blame off of them and placing it squarely onto me. The victim. I wouldn’t have “personal culpability” here and neither does Sainz.

And, finally, the part of the argument where Sainz’s gender is dismissed but she’s still blamed:

You know, the more I think of Sainz’s situation, the more I think this really had little to do with sex. Or, more specifically, it had little to do with her gender. Type-A, alpha male type of men–the type of men found in spades on NFL rosters and staffs–regularly intimidate, ridicule, mock, taunt, and sexually humiliate other men as a way to assert their status (they wouldn’t be alpha males if they didn’t do this), so it’s no surprise they’d treat an outsider, an outsider with attire suggesting they’re weak, whimsical, and irrelevant, that way. Trust me, they would have been just as quick to tease and taunt an inappropriately dressed man, and they probably would have been even meaner.

I feel as though someone should jump in here and scream out “Sexism hurts men, too!” The Champ’s just reduced the entire NFL to a bunch of men who are helpless before things that are “weak, whimsical, and irrelevant” and cannot resist attacking those things. Why, they’re hardly human beings at all, are they? They’re caricatures of men who can’t be held responsible for their own behavior. Wearing jeans in front of them is just like waving a red flag in front of a bull!

Oh, please.

The entire post is one long example of victim blaming. The Champ asked his girlfriend and some of her presumably female friends their take on this situation, (Classic anti-feminist rhetoric, “I have a friend who…”) He says that Sainz “got what she was asking for.” I’m not sure what that was, though I guess she did get an interview with Mark Sanchez for TV Azteca. (“She was asking for it.” Hey, look, another square on the bingo card!)

Then he pulls out the anti-political-correctness card (so popular these days) and says “But, I think we’ve become so PC on the side of ‘a victim is always just a victim’ that we’re reluctant to admit that victim-blaming isn’t always a wrong concept.” And, as the cherry on top of this piece of victim blaming BS he compares Sainz to the “many other attractive female reporters in NFL locker rooms, women treated with respect and courtesy because they dress and act in a serious manner.” Lest you’re confused about what he’s getting at there with his Madonna-Whore dichotomy, he closes by saying Sainz dresses like a prostitute.

Despite The Champ’s assertions, there’s nothing new in this piece of victim blaming and there’s still no reason to blame the victim.


Written by tldegray

September 16, 2010 at 11:39 pm

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. four things

    1. it’s a bit refreshing to see someone who has actually read the post write a rebuttal (as opposed to the more popular “just read the title, and just draw conclusions from the title” way of blog criticism) and i sincerely appreciate and thank you for that.

    2. admittedly, both the title (“the ho’s unform”) and the last sentence were harsh, hyperbolic, and probably unfair. “ho’s uniform” is an allusion to a dave chappelle stand-up, and i ended the piece with “if Sainz wants to treated professionally, she should probably stop dressing like she belongs to the world’s oldest profession” to tie it back in with the title.

    3. i never said the players (and staff) who harassed sainz shouldn’t be held responsible. and although i suggested certain characteristics are synonymous with “type-a, alpha males”, on an individual level i think most of those guys would behave much differently. but, i’m also very aware of inner-locker room group dynamics, and it’s intellectually irresponsible to ignore the fact that, well, things are a bit “different” in there.

    4. i (obviously) don’t know you, and i don’t personally know the vast majority of the people who read and comment on vsb, so i don’t know what’s going on in people’s heads. but, it seems like that majority of the people who vehemently disagreed were arguing more on anti-victim blaming principle than the facts of this particular incident.

    i’m aware of the baggage associated with that term, but i’m also aware that much of what happens in the world is drawn with varying shades of gray. sometimes bad shit just happens to people. and, sometimes the fact that a person ignored common-sense can lead to bad shit happening to them. is it their fault that bad shit happened? no. would it be wise for a person to advise them “hey, you know, the next time you’re in that situation, maybe you should do things a little different”? yes.

    in summary, i just don’t see how suggesting that a woman entering a place with 50+, 25 to 35 year old half-naked men should dress in a more professional manner was a bad thing.

    anyway, thanks again.

    —the champ

    the champ

    September 18, 2010 at 6:25 pm

  2. I hear you on #1. I believe I don’t get to open my mouth or put my fingers to keyboard if I can’t do it with full knowledge of what I’m discussing. It does a disservice to everyone.

    I think where we differ is in the solution to the problem. There’s an acknowledgment that we live in a world where women are harassed and that said harassment is often centered upon their clothing; I’m pretty sure we share this idea. The difference is, you (I think) see a solution in Ines Sainz not wearing that type of clothing into an all-male, NFL, locker room environment, and I see a solution in men not harassing women.

    I think placing any responsibility at all on Sainz and her choice of clothing for this incident comes with the idea that “these things do happen” which downplays the seriousness of sexual harassment. That is standard victim blaming. It’s as if by putting responsibility on the victim we’re saying sexual harassment can’t be avoided or stopped (that harassers cannot be responsible for themselves) so it’s up to women to protect themselves from it as best they can, by wearing modest clothing, behaving “professionally,” etc.

    Instead of accepting that harassment exists and teaching women to take steps to avoid being harassed, I think a far better solution is to teach men not to harass.

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m always open for a discussion.


    September 20, 2010 at 3:23 am

  3. I’m so glad I saw this trackback to that post! Honestly, I was pretty depressed for humanity after reading what The Champ had to say and all the commenters agreeing with him. And I’m so glad to see he’s responded to you here cuz I’d like to address this assumption:

    “in summary, i just don’t see how suggesting that a woman entering a place with 50+, 25 to 35 year old half-naked men should dress in a more professional manner was a bad thing.”

    It’s a bad thing because it implies that it matters. I’d really urge you to read some accounts by women of color on their experience with street harassment. Especially Black women. I think someone toward the end of the thread linked some places you can read womens’ stories…

    I WISH, with all my heart, that dressing a certain way would make me and the girls and women in my life safer. I really do understand why so many women came out in support of your post. The feeling is something like: “If we can identify what SHE did wrong, maybe we have the power to prevent this from happening to US!” And it’s a scary thing to give up that illusion of power. The fact is, girls and women (especially Black women) experience sexual harassment from pre-adolescence onward NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. No not just “fast” girls (because there is no difference between “fast” and “good” girls). We’ve had to deal with grown men leering, threatening, and groping at us since elementary school. We learn from childhood onward that, when we’re in public, our bodies don’t belong to us. I’ve been harassed wearing sweatpants, wearing a blazer and slacks, when I was sick and literally in the hospital– it doesn’t matter. Just a couple weeks ago I caught myself about to go walk my dog and thought, “Oh, better change outta these shorts and put on pants!” Ha! I STILL got catcalled and I was reminded once again that, to men, I don’t have the right to BE. Simple as that. We don’t have the right to exist without being threatened. Anywhere. There are no areas that can be quarantined away and all we have to do is avoid those places. Locker room, school, doctor’s office, church, your own backyard– it doesn’t matter! And it’s bad and wrong and damaging to give women “advice” assuming it does.

    And, again, the intensity with which women of color feel this hostility is staggering. So so so so many Black women I’ve talked to say that they started overeating to maybe keep themselves less attractive. Fat, for sooooo many women, is a defense mechanism so they can preserve SOME kinda sanity dealing w/this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It’s a barrier, like armor…

    And it’s bad to say “Maybe if Ines did THIS!” because your comments don’t exist in a vacuum. When men say things like, “Well it’s not ever her fault BUUUUUT…” it just adds on to the problem. You can’t be against rape and police women’s bodies at the same time (even if it’s “For her own good!”). It’s all part of the same monster. Insinuating that certain clothes can reduce risk is just a false sense of hope and takes accountability away from men. What would women have to do to reduce the risk of sexual violence and harassment? Really, according to the numbers?
    1. Not have a disability
    2. Not ever be arrested/interact with/be around the police
    3. Not have family members
    4. Not ever be alone with male friends even if it’s your bf/husband
    5. Not be trans or gender non conforming
    6. Not be in poverty…

    It’s not “just common sense” to tell women to dress less whatever. It’s not “just common sense” to have a tone of “Well what did she expect?!” It’s just regular, plain old, culturally-approved sexism and rape apologism.


    September 21, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    • Well, put, Shelby. I especially want to highlight this: “Insinuating that certain clothes can reduce risk is just a false sense of hope and takes accountability away from men.”


      September 22, 2010 at 12:07 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: